In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.
One of my favorite pastimes is settling down with my favorite iced coffee and a new book. I was browsing the new arrivals at Barnes and Noble with my husband, Derrick -another of my favorite pastimes- and happened upon The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. The book is an intense read: In France, 1939, in the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.
I loved how the book was written from the perspective of the French during the war with Hitler, providing a different and fresh perspective. The Nightingale is a beautifully written, compelling novel, and I was completely engrossed from the first page. Hannah’s descriptions are vivid, gorgeous, and I found myself reaching for the Kleenex more than once (yes, I’m a softie!)
If you reach for any novel this year, let this be it: I promise you will not be disappointed! See the full list of my recommended books below.